Workers recover stolen device that contains radioactive materials


Acting on a tip from an anonymous caller, workers from Towson-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. yesterday were directed to a Glen Burnie roadside where they recovered an instrument containing radioactive materials stolen last week.

The surface moisture-density gauge, which measures the moisture and density of soil, was stolen July 17 from a field storage site in Linthicum, where the construction company is overseeing the extension of the light rail to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

After receiving the phone call, workers from Whiting-Turner found the device along Hammonds Ferry Road in Glen Burnie, the Maryland Department of the Environment said. After picking up the device, Whiting-Turner officials notified its owner, ATEC Associates of Columbia.

MDE officials and an ATEC radiation safety officer tested the device for radiation leakage before it was returned to Columbia.

The gauge contains cesium-137 and americium-241, radioactive materials that are not considered hazardous as long as the gauge's shielded compartment remains intact. MDE officials said the device appeared to be intact and the shielded area did not appear to be compromised.

ATEC officials said they would not return the device to service until the results of radiation leakage tests are received.

The gauge was taken by a thief who broke into an old house in the 600 block of Camp Meade Road that is being used as a field storage site.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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